Date of Degree

9-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Philosophy

Advisor(s)

Jesse Prinz

Committee Members

David Rosenthal

Gary Ostertag

Peter Godfrey-Smith

Michael Devitt

Subject Categories

Philosophy of Mind | Philosophy of Science

Keywords

perception; perceptual content; object seeing; contextualism; indeterminacy

Abstract

There are two widely held assumptions about perception: ascriber-independence (the view that the facts regarding what a subject perceives, as well as what her perceptual states represent, are independent of the interests of those attributing the relevant states to her), and determinacy (the view that perceptual content is relatively determinate). I challenge both of these assumptions, and develop a new approach to perceptual content, with implications for theories of mental content more broadly. In chapter one, I address the question of whether, in addition to low-level features, vision represents ordinary objects. I argue that there is just no fact of the matter. In chapter two, I defend a contextualist account of object-seeing: one that illuminates the inscrutability thesis defended in chapter 1. Finally, in chapter three, I address the question of whether the contents of vision are object-dependent. I argue that it is simply indeterminate whether the particulars we perceive enter into the contents of our perceptual states. I then address various worries about the indeterminacy thesis, arguing that we should embrace the view that there are multiple, equally acceptable, ways to assign contents to our perceptual experiences.

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